Seldom if ever have the Giants so thoroughly dominated a second half and emerged from a game so disappointed.
Such was their fate Sunday afternoon in Soldier Field.
After falling behind by 17 points in a scoreless first half, the Giants shut out the Bears while scoring 13 points in the final two quarters. They scored a touchdown on a 95-yard drive and after pulling to within four points, gave themselves a chance to win by forcing a missed 50-yard field goal attempt on Chicago's final possession.
The Giants drove all the way to Bears' 10 with four seconds left. On the final play, Daniel Jones threw into the end zone for Golden Tate, who didn't catch the ball and was penalized for offensive pass interference, ending the game in brutal fashion. The loss moves the Giants to 0-2.
"I'm very proud of the way our team fought," coach Joe Judge said. "I'm very proud of the way they finished the game in the second half. … I thought the two-minute drive at the end was very telling in the fight we had and at the end with the penalty. Obviously that's something we gotta clean up and we can't shoot ourselves in the foot."
The outcome was only a portion of the Giants' bad news. This was the first game in which Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram were all in uniform together for the Giants. But the myriad possibilities that presented the offense soon dissolved.
Early in the second quarter, Barkley, the team's running back, left the game with a potentially serious injury to his right knee sustained when he was tackled by Eddie Jackson on a six-yard run. Late in the quarter, leading receiver Shepard left the game with a toe injury.
Both players will be examined further on Monday.
"Certainly a tough break there for us today," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "But I know those guys will battle and I think they'll attack the challenge and we're excited to support them, and we'll have guys step up. So, whatever the situation is, we'll attack it and respond as a team."
Just as they did in the game. The first half was not one the Giants will relish reviewing.
The Bears led 10-0 before the game was 11 minutes old. They drove 82 yards on the opening possession, which ended with Mitch Trubisky's 28-yard touchdown pass to running back David Montgomery.
Three plays later, Jones was sacked by Robert Quinn and fumbled. Linebacker Khalil Mack recovered at the Giants' 20-yard line, leading to Cairo Santos' 34-yard field goal. On a third-and-eight in the second quarter, the Giants deployed eight defensive backs but Trubisky found wide receiver Darnell Mooney in the end zone for a 15-yard score and a 17-0 lead.
At the half, the Giants had owned the ball for just under 10 minutes and gained only 116 yards, prompting Judge to rip into the team in the locker room.
"Well, to be honest with you, halftime was a lot like the practice you guys wrote about us recently (when he ordered the team to start over)," Judge said. "We didn't come out here with the right kind of energy to start the game. We came out understanding there's 30 more minutes of football and we're going to give ourselves an opportunity to win."
"The first half, we were just hurting ourselves with missed assignments and things like that," linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez said. "Second half, we were refocusing and doing one of 11 and just doing our job on that given play and things started going in our favor."
Though they punted on the first possession of the second half, the Giants began climbing back two plays later, when safety Julian Love intercepted Trubisky's pass to Allen Robinson, which was tipped by James Bradberry. Graham Gano soon gave the Giants their first points with a 39-yard field goal.
Late in the third quarter, the Giants took possession at their own five. They needed 11 plays to drive the length of the field, the last a one-yard fourth-down run by Dion Lewis, the eighth-year running back who took over for Barkley. That lifted the Giants to within 17-10 with more than 14 minutes to plays.
"It was fourth-and-goal on the one-yard line, gotta do whatever you gotta do, mindset is just get in, whatever I gotta do to get in," Lewis said. "Kind of got low, hid behind some of the big guys, and just kept my legs moving. They did a great job getting a lot of push, I think I fell like three or four yards inside the end zone. So, the O-line did a great job, that was a key play for us in the game."
On Chicago's ensuing possession, Bradberry came up with an acrobatic interception of his own when, with his back to Trubisky, he wrestled the ball from Robinson's arms and stayed inbounds at the Giants' 34-yard line.
Disaster appeared to interrupt the rally when Jackson picked off a Jones pass and returned it 54 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the score was nullified by a pass interference penalty – on Jackson, who collided with Kaden Smith before the ball arrived.
Given new life, the Giants advanced to the Bears' 19-yard line, enabling Gano to kick a 37-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 17-13.
After Santos missed his long field goal attempt, the Giants took over at their own 40 with 2:02 to go with a chance to earn a victory that seemed unlikely in the first half.
Jones connected with Engram for a 22-yard completion on third-and-10 and with Lewis for six yards on fourth-and-four. The Giants soon faced another fourth down and Jones found Darius Slayton for a three-yard gain with nine seconds remaining.
After Jones clocked the ball, a pass to Lewis gained four yards to the 10 with only four seconds left. Jones threw to Tate, who was covered by Jackson. There was contact in the end zone, which the officials ruled was initiated by the Giants' receiver.
"Everyone's getting in the end zone on that play, so they played - they knew that and played zone in the end zone," Jones said. "So just trying to find a spot, and everyone is certainly an option there. I'd like to go back and look at the play and learn from it."
"We did a good job overall as far as moving the ball systematically down the field," said Judge, whose team held Chicago to 112 yards and seven first downs in the second half. "Look, you're standing on the 10-yard line with one play to go. That's really what you're working for in the two-minute drills, just give yourself an opportunity. I thought the way it was called was the right way. I thought the way our players executed we converted some third downs, a fourth down in there. We gave ourselves a chance. Obviously, until we make the penalty on the last play, but Daniel did a good job of extending the play moving out of the pocket to give himself a chance to find the throw. Obviously, not good enough because we didn't win the game."
Which is why they felt so empty when it ended.
View photos from the Week 2 matchup between the Giants and Bears at Soldier Field.